History Ph.D. candidate Adam Domby said he has seen the value of the overall financial package offered to prospective graduate students lessen over the years.
“Nine years ago it was a good deal to go to UNC,” he said. “Now we have trouble recruiting students who have offers at other universities because we’re not as competitive when another university offers better funding.”
Michael Bertucci, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation, said the power of a UNC degree is still a factor in students’ decisions, but finances also weigh heavily.
“We have to ask, ‘How competitive are we in recruiting top graduate students in terms of giving them a good value for their education?’” he said.
“That could be part of the decision — ‘How much debt am I going to leave with, and how much am I going to make while at school?’”
To ease financial burdens, between 1,500 and 2,000 graduate students apply for residency for in-state tuition each year, said Steve Matson, dean of the graduate school.
About 90 percent of first- year doctoral students in the graduate school are out-of-state, Matson said.
But gaining residency can be a difficult process.
“It takes at least a year, and it’s not always cut and dry that you’re going to get residency,” Bertucci said. “It’s difficult to get that burden of proof to say you deserve to be a resident of the state.”
This semester, 56.3 percent of graduate students are in-state, and 43.7 percent are out-of-state.
There is also concern that while the 6.5 percent increase might seem the same for all graduate students, the increase for out-of-state students is about $1,000 more.
The graduate school can provide tuition remission — money that covers the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition — for out-of-state graduate students.
And as the difference between the two increases every year, it has become more difficult for funds to totally cover it, Matson said.
But Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost, said he is hopeful revenue from tuition increases will let UNC hire more graduate students as teaching assistants, allowing UNC to offer more small classes.
“We just have to keep our fingers crossed we don’t get another budget cut,” he said.
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